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Faceoff dominance the No. 1 reason as top-seeded St. John’s Prep rallies past Hingham

Every time defending champion St. John’s Prep needed a response during Saturday’s Division 1 boys’ lacrosse state semifinal against Hingham, the Eagles’ faceoff unit helped provide one.

Junior Chris Esposito won 20 of 22 draws and Jimmy Ayers netted five goals for Prep to facilitate a 12-8 win at Burlington High, setting up a rematch with BC High in the Division 1 state final Tuesday night at Worcester State.

“Being able to win possession is incredibly important in lacrosse,” Prep coach John Pynchon said. “[Faceoff specialist] is arguably the most consequential position in terms of being able to tilt the game in your favor, so Chris was outstanding for us today and we were able to score the go-ahead goal off a faceoff transition opportunity a couple times.”


Hingham (20-3) overcame a deficit on faceoffs with great defense and hustle from leaders such as junior midfielder Charlie Packard, who tallied five goals and corralled nine ground balls in a fantastic performance.

“[Hingham coach] John [Todd], I look up to him as a coach for how high school coaches should run their program,” Pynchon said. “Packard, on the opening play, he causes a turnover and scores, and we knew then we’re going to see an outstanding effort from them.”

The fourth-seeded Harbormen took an 8-7 lead early in the fourth when Packard found Joe Hennessey for a goal, but Esposito won the ensuing faceoff to set up a goal from Ayers, who scored four in the second half.

With 4:30 to play, senior pole Connor Kelly cleared and found Tommy Sarni (two goals, assist), then Esposito won the next faceoff to set up a goal from senior pole Luca Winter. Ayers and Charlie Wilmot added insurance for the top-seeded Eagles (21-1).

“We haven’t been in a close game in awhile, so I was apprehensive how we were going to react in the third and fourth quarter,” Pynchon said. “We talk about mental control and being composed and the players were outstanding today, making huge plays down the stretch.”


BC High 8, Lincoln-Sudbury 6 — With two starting poles out because of injury and two more key contributors injured during Saturday’s Division 1 state semifinal, BC High didn’t panic.

The third-seeded Eagles (17-5) trusted junior goalie Andrew Toland, who tallied 15 saves, and their capable attack, led by junior Will Emsing, who scored or assisted on seven of their goals in a hard-fought win at Burlington High.

“Prep is a handful,” BC High coach Marcus Craigwell said. “We’re in the same conference, so it’s like Jets versus Patriots. We just have to buckle down and know our matchups and really execute our scout.

“Ask these [players if they wanted to see Prep], and they’ll say, yes, 110 percent. It’s one of those things where the best two teams are getting after it, so it’s going to be a grudge match for sure.”

Emsing (four goals, three assists) and senior captain Tim Rogers (two goals, two assists) combined for three goals early to give third-seeded BC High a 4-1 lead. No. 2 Lincoln-Sudbury (15-4) clawed back to make 5-4 at the half when Henry Grosso (goal, two assists) scored in the final seconds of the second quarter.

Both offenses stalled in the third quarter, with Toland standing tall and L-S goalie Nolan O’Brien (12 saves) keeping the Warriors close.


Despite the absence of junior captain James Carroll and senior pole Emmett Connolly, combined with the loss of Aidan and Shane McDonnell with in-game injuries, the Eagles defense held up long enough for Emsing to find Pat Maroney for the go-ahead goal midway through the fourth quarter. Rogers found Ronan Bailey for an insurance score with 41 seconds remaining.

“Toland’s a phenomenal goalie, and the world is starting to see how good he is,” Craigwell said. “He’s starting to really see the ball well and the ‘D’ follows off that. We’re down four starters and they were missed, but guys stepped up, and that’s all we can ask for.”

Division 2 State

Longmeadow 15, Reading 10 — Junior Coleson Hanrahan (five goals, two assists) and freshman Gordon Leary (four goals) powered the attack, and John Batchelor had 17 saves as the top-seeded Lancers (21-1) took control in the third quarter for the semifinal win at Medway High. Longmeadow will play Billerica in Tuesday’s Division 2 final at Worcester State.

Robbie Granana scored four goals for No. 5 Reading (18-4), Ethan Haggerty added three, and JP Sullivan scored a pair off faceoff wins he converted in transition.

Division 3 State

Medfield 14, Dracut 5 — It took the better part of a quarter for Medfield to find its footing, but once the top-seeded Warriors hit their stride, they went on a decisive 11-0 run, coasting to a state semifinal victory at Burlington High.

No. 1 Medfield (19-3) will face No. 2 Norwell (20-2) in the Division 3 state final Wednesday at Worcester State.


“We would’ve like to get off to a faster start,” Medfield coach John Isaf said, “but we have 26 seniors and they were pretty poised. We just settled down and started playing our game.”

Dracut (18-4) jumped out to a 2-0 lead and held a 3-2 advantage early in the first quarter after Brock Desmarais scored his second goal.

Then the Warriors defense stiffened, allowing no goals over the next 32 minutes, 44 seconds, while Tri-Valley League MVP Luke Murphy led Medfield’s balanced offense to a 13-3 lead after three quarters.

Along with Murphy (seven goals, assist), seniors Caleb Lawson (four goals, assist), and Jack Sullivan (two goals, two assists) contributed on offense, while UMass-bound faceoff ace T.J. Casey (15 for 19 on faceoffs) added a goal and an assist.

“Sharing the ball is key,” Isaf said. “We have some talented players and I’ve always talked to them about pass up a good shot for yourself to get a great shot for your teammate. Especially in the second half of the season, we’ve been moving it, finding the right matchup and getting better shots.”

Norwell earned an 8-7 victory at Medfield on April 9. The Clippers are playing in their second consecutive D3 state final, and Medfield will be seeking its 10th state title since 2004.

“[Our] guys know what they’re after,” Isaf said. “They’ve been on a mission all season so I would expect them to be ready to go.”


Division 4 State

Sandwich 7, Dover-Sherborn 6 — With just under five minutes remaining in regulation and the game tied at six, Sandwich attackman Caleb Richardson made a shifty move to lose his defender and drive to the front of the net.

The senior wound up flat on his back, looking to the sky after getting crushed. But when Richardson stood up, he had given the top-seeded Blue Knights the semifinal victory over No. 5 Dover-Sherborn at Norwell High, and set up a state final with Wahconah on Wednesday at Worcester State.

“I came around the left side and I had been able to get a couple good dodges early in the game, and I decided to take him on my left side, and then did a inside roll on him and was able to beat the goalie up high,” said Richardson, who had three goals in the game, all in the second half.

Sandwich (21-3) trailed by one at halftime after the Raiders controlled play in the first half. Maximus Niit, who scored four goals total, has two in the first half to help put D-S (14-9) ahead.

“It took us a little while to get going. At the half, the senior leadership made it clear the message was, ‘Now, it’s our turn. Now, we go play our game,’ and I liked that message from the seniors,” said Sandwich coach Mike McNeill. “It worked, and they didn’t slow down and they trusted each other.”

Richardson would net three goals in the third quarter, and Avery Richardson and Kevin Jordan each scored once to help the Blue Knights take a one goal lead into the fourth.

D-S mounted a frantic effort to tie the game in the last two minutes, including a chance off a rush with just over a minute left saved by goalkeeper Shane Corcoran. The rebound would float over the sophomore and toward the empty cage, but Corcoran (14 saves) sprawled back and batted the ball out of danger.

“Those were two of the most hectic minutes I’ve ever played,” said Richardson. “We just wanted to possess that ball and Shane made a bunch of really great stops for us

Wahconah 13, Cohasset 12 — Billy O’Neil scored the overtime winner to pace the third-seeded Warriors (20-1) to a semifinal win against the No. 2 Skippers at Shepherd Hill in Dudley.


Division 4 State

Dover-Sherborn 14, Sandwich 4 — Leading by 11 at halftime of the showdown against second-seeded Sandwich, Dover-Sherborn coach Erin Massimi had a simple message for her squad: Don’t get complacent.

The No. 3 Raiders cruised through the final 25 minutes, putting the finishing touches on the semifinal victory over the Blue Knights (20-2) at Norwell High School.

“It’s been a focus of keeping our fire after coming out hot,” Massimi said. “We have to continue to work on that and not relax, we have to keep that fire up there because every team in this tournament deserves to be here.”

D-S roared out to a 12-1 lead after its offense dominated the early stages of the game. Mia Guarini netted five goals and Magdalena Rieper scored three times in the first half to put the game well in hand early in the contest.

“I just tried to let my opportunities come to me. I don’t want to force anything and I knew my teammates would come through and set me up,” said Guarini, who finished the game with six goals.

Six Raiders registered a goal, including Ava Hatfield (two) and Avery O’Connell. Senior captain Rylie McLaughlin was 16 for 20 at the faceoff X and scored two goals. Goalkeeper Kathryn Mahoney made eight saves.

With the victory the Raiders (15-9) return to the championship game for the second consecutive year after winning the Division 2 title last season. D-S will compete for the Division 4 crown against top-seeded Manchester Essex on Tuesday at Babson College.

“I think we have to focus on us and our strengths,” Massimi said. “I’m proud of our defense and how we executed today so I think we have to stick to ourselves, play our strengths and go into that game with the confidence that we can win it.”

Division 3 State

Cohasset 14, Weston 13 — Molly Stephens (six goals, two assists) scored with 1:14 to go to lift the No. 8 Skippers (17-3) past the No. 4 Wildcats at Weymouth High.